2017-09-21 training log

I haven’t been feeling it with my back sessions, so I opted to change it up. Today marks the first outing with the minor changes. So far, I like it. I’ll need at least another session to settle things in but so far so good.

Face pulls are kept light and minimal, just to get things warmed up. Then into some heavier rows, which I’ve really been enjoying getting back to doing. Shrugs continue to be amusing to me as I try to find the right weights to work with. I’m thinking I may adjust this where I do the 2 heavy sets, then drop to the light sets and let the light sets just crank to failure instead of straight-sets.

Cable rows. This is a new addition, and I just love cable rows. No back movement gives me as much feel in my lats and such as cable rows do. I did want to do them with a wide, neutral grip, but couldn’t find the bar — until after I had finished my rows, of course. So I just used the same old narrow neutral grip handle, which was fine. I should be able to get the weight dialed in by next session. Then curl-grip pulldowns I opted for for a little more variety/angles on the back, but curl grips also give me a lot more feel in my lats for whatever reason. So them, with some drop set work, great.

All in all, not bad. I still feel like I need a bit more volume, but I think I can get there with some continued small adjustments. Plus, this is fine to be a bit on the lower side as it gives me somewhere to go and lets me stretch out the training cycle longer.

  • Face Pulls
    • 65 x 25
    • 65 x 25
  • Barbell Rows
    • 135 x 8
    • 155 x 7
    • 175 x 6
    • 195 x 5
    • 205 x 4
    • 215 x 3
    • 175 x 10 (AMRAP)
    • 175 x 5 (50%)
  • BB Shrugs
    • 295 x 8
    • 295 x 8
    • 215 x 20
    • 210 x 20
  • Cable Row (low, wide neutral grip)
    • 120 x 12
    • 135 x 12
    • 150 x 14
  • Curl-Grip Pulldowns
    • 105 x 12
    • 120 x 12
    • 120 x 12
    • 120 x 12
    • 105 x 5 (drop)
    • 90 x 5 (drop)

AAR: Historical Handgun, September 2017

Historical Handgun: Karl Rehn, KR Training

I have not had this much fun in ages.

I participated in Karl Rehn’s first offering of the Historical Handgun (1-Day) course at KR Training on September 16, 2017. The half-day version was offered this past summer, but I was unable to make it due to prior commitments. There was no way I was going to miss this one.


FBI 1945

As one of Karl’s assistant instructors, I’ve been hearing a lot about this course. Karl spoke to me about it frequently as he was working on it, and I was happy when he got things done and could finally offer it as a class. You see, I didn’t grow up with guns. Oh sure, they were around me to some extent or other, I played cops and robbers as a kid, watched The Lone Ranger, and all those things. And in my almost-decade working for Karl, I’ve learned a lot about the development and history of handgunning. But I know there’s still much to learn, especially about the earliest of days.


And let’s be frank. As one of Karl’s assistants, I ought to know and have taken every class KR Training offers. 🙂


Army 1935, part 1

Karl is able to offer Historical Handgun in 3 formats: half-day, one-day, two-day. The content is basically the same, just when you have more time you can get more content and dive a little deeper into topics. Another twist on the class is striving to replicate the time periods. You shoot drills, qualifications, and standards from the eras, and you can shoot them with somewhat period-appropriate firearms. You could shoot the course with one gun, or you could shoot with a revolver, a 1911, a DA/SA semi-automatic, and a modern striker-fired gun (different guns for different courses of fire, as appropriate for the time-period). It’s a really cool twist and puts a different spin and challenge into the class.

Army 1935, part 2

Material was broken up by decade, starting in 1930 (if I remember correctly) and working up to today. Karl would point out significant events of that decade, things that were pivotal in the history of handgunning, affecting and influencing where we are today. Karl also pointed out significant people of that decade and what they did that earned them the right to be enshrined in the history books.

Karl would lecture in the classroom about a couple decades, then we would go outside and shoot. The courses of fire we shot came from those time periods, and if you had an appropriate firearm for the time period, you could use it to shoot the course. After we shot a couple courses, we’d go back inside. That was the rhythm of the day.

Gunsite 250

Weather was good, but a bit hot. Class had only four students, which was a shame. Y’all missed out on tons of fun.

Range Time

Gunsite 350

Two of the four students had taken the half-day class, and two of us (including myself) were first-timers. Three of the students opted to shoot the 4-guns. Me? I stuck with my M&P 2.0 9mm all day. I don’t own a DA/SA gun (I own the others), and while I could borrow one I opted to just keep it simple for the day. I actually think doing that gave me some good perspectives, which I’ll talk about later. I did shoot from my IWB holster, but there’s no concealment drawing in class so I tucked in my shirt.

We shot 9 courses of fire:

  • FBI 1945
  • Army 1935
  • Gunsite 250
  • Gunsite 350
  • FBI 1986
  • Marine (Advanced) Combat Pistol Course 2013
  • A local police department’s qual
  • FBI 2013

FBI 1986

Ran through about 400 rounds of ammo.

What Did I Learn?

This is not a class for learning how to shoot – this is a history class. You’re here to learn history.

US Marines (Advanced) Combat Pistol Course 2013

There’s no time spent on teaching you how to shoot, correcting your problems, or other such things. You need to come to this class already knowing how to shoot. But if you’re not awesome that’s OK – come anyways, because shooting the drills is really more about the experience and having a tangible aspect to the history lessons. If there is any “skills teaching” it’s to teach skills of the time period. For example, we spent some time with SIRT pistols to learn the proper FBI “hip shoot and crouch” position. We also did some dry work on the Weaver stance, not so much to teach it, but to help overcome our ingrained use of Isosceles. So again, you’re learning history.

When it came to the classroom portions, it was chock full of information. Yes I recognized a lot of events and names, but then it was cool to hear about some pivotal person and have a “Oh, so that’s where that came from!” moment.

One especially cool thing? Seeing how much “the times” affected the state of handgunning. Like developments in printing (magazines), or the advent of home-video, and how those cultural and technological changes outside of the gun world ended up having a big impact on the gun world.

It was also cool to see how one decade fed into the next. How things like cowboy quick draw gave rise to IPSC, and why the Gunsite Standards put so much emphasis on fast draws and fast shooting.

In fact, that was a neat thing to observe in terms of the courses of fire. You could see why a qual was developed as it was. Where emphasis was placed (and where it wasn’t). Seeing the qual in its (historical) context gave deeper understanding of the qual. Then to see how quals changed over time, especially since we shot three versions of FBI quals.

As for shooting…

Local PD qual

Those guys back in the 30’s and 40’s could shoot. You had to! They were shooting double-action revolvers, they were reloading from loose rounds, and were shooting at 25 and 50 yards under tight time constraints and tough scoring. You had to move quickly, and be highly accurate.

That’s where I had some interesting insight in shooting my M&P. When we were shooting at 25 and 50 yards, of course I was going slow. When it was time to reload I would do a reload, but of course mine was much easier than reloading a revolver from loose rounds. Even still, I’d find myself feeling the pressure of the timer. I found myself thinking that here I am with all this modern convenience and still feeling it, when those guys had double-action revolvers, loose rounds, and then even less time to get things done. And they managed to do it. It’s some tough stuff!

Pictures of the targets afterwards and simple point scores don’t tell the complete story of my shooting. No problems out to 15 yards. But 25, 35, and 50 yards? That’s where I lost points. I am happy for the time I’ve spent in the past year on longer distance shooting, because I finally figured out what I need to do, what I need to see, and how to do it — I just need to do it more consistently. So I was pretty happy with a lot of my longer distance shooting, I just have a lot of room to improve.

Another good thing? The work I put in towards my USPSA classification paid off with my drawstroke. I can get the gun out of the holster pretty quick, then slow down and shoot. The quick draw gives more time for slow shooting, y’know? Or in the case of something like the Gunsite standards, the quick draw just lets you do the course of fire.

FBI 2013

When looking at my performance, we were joking that I came into my own around the 1970’s. Seems about right. 🙂

What didn’t I like about the class? It’s too short. Karl could really only touch lightly on some topics, but that makes sense. I mean, covering almost 100 years of history and there’s only so much you can do. Some things got missed, and Karl made notes to himself about people and events to add. Some things we’d start going down a rabbit hole on, but Karl’s pretty good about time management and would cut things off and keep things moving. The one-day format is good, but I know the real gem is going to be the 2-day version of this class.

Karl also provided us a list of books, which he’s going to continue to expand. My reading list is pretty backed up as it is, and now it’s got even more in the queue.

Really folks, this was a fun one. Most other times when I take a class there’s some point or purpose. I’m trying to gain a certification, or I’m trying to focus on getting better at something. But here? It was just fun. The history was fun. The shooting was fun. The whole day was just so much fun. Nothing but smiles from everyone there all day. Even when we were stinking up the joint, it was so much fun. It was great to just get out and shoot, and gain some deeper knowledge about the history of handgunning.

What’s cool? Karl’s taking this course on the road. Stay tuned to the KR Training website, Facebook page, and get on the mailing list to know when it will be coming to a range near you.

My scorecard. Shot my M&P 2.0 9mm (full size). 25yd, 35yd, 50yd shooting is hard (for me).

Ed Head’s Practice Drill

A little while ago, Karl and I went out and shot a drill from Gunsite Instructor Ed Head. It’s a good drill in our continued study of Minimum Competency.

Here’s a video of us demonstrating it:

And here’s Karl’s analysis. Karl has a few suggestions to make it a stronger standard, and how you can use the drill in your own practice to improve your skills.

2017-09-19 training log

It was a jack-shit sort of day.

Squats actually went pretty well. The work up was pretty smooth. The 325 went up better than prior sessions, a little slow out of the hole, but accelerated nicely. A period of pause squats may be in my future. The triple was good and about where it should be. Then the AMRAP was upped in weight, and I could have gotten 1-2 more but I fell forward pretty bad on the 9th rep, even taking a step to regain my balance. Not good. So I racked it.


On the way home I thought about it. It’s gym novelty. The racks are up against the wall, which has full-length mirrors over the run of it. Thus, I’ve been using the mirrors to watch for depth, ensuring I do NOT cut anything short. That’s been great because I’ve been certainly sinking every squat, which is also cool because I know sometimes I’ve had confidence problems when the weight got heavier and cut depth. No more. I also have increased confidence because I have real racks, able to set catch-bars exactly where it’s correct for me so if I do miss it should be simple to set the bar down. So I’m watching myself, I’ve increased confidence, and as such, I’m losing a few things — like kinesthetic feedback. I’m being driven more by visual feedback, so I’m focusing more on what I see and less on what I feel. I shouldn’t do that. I should be using the kinesthetic, and only using a glance of visual just to confirm what I feel.

Again, it’s the novelty of the new gym, the new equipment, and being able to have all of this. So, just something I have to be aware of and focus on.

Anyways, I jack-shitted the day because I’m tired. I’ve been thinking “gee, do I need to deload”? and no I really don’t, because gains and progress is solid. But I am worn out, because of my sleep issues. So I figured to not dig my recovery hole that deep today. Just squat (and ellptical, and foam-roll/stretch) and head out. It was a good day, so end on a good note.

  • Squat
    • bar x 5
    • 135 x 5
    • 165 x 4
    • 195 x 3
    • 245 x 2
    • 275 x 1
    • 305 x 1
    • 325 x 1
    • 300 x 3
    • 225 x 9 (AMRAP)

2017-09-18 training log

It got better.

I’ve been having trouble sleeping the past few weeks, and it’s evident in many areas of life right now. I’m working on it, but it’s complicated. Anyways, I just felt poopy going into the gym this morning. The 125 set on inclines felt like a ton, and didn’t set the stage well for me. I thought about going easier, dropping some top sets off, or maybe taking an impromptu deload. But then I said nah… just do it and let things happen as they do.

The top 235 set was a little sloppy, but it happened. Overall inclines are in a good place, progressing.

DB benches continue to be fun for me. Small warm-up sets, then it was fun taking the 95’s for a ride. What’s hard isn’t so much moving the weight but not dropping it! These are big rubber hex DB’s with THICK handles, so it’s a lot to hold onto, and adds a nice extra challenge to things. But what’s even more fun is as I drop the weight, I work to move more by pure muscular contraction. So that final set with the 40’s, maybe the first 2/3rds of the reps were me trying to just contract my pecs to move the weight, then as they started to burn letting it become more of a full-pressing motion (letting triceps work, etc.). It really cranks things out hard, as I strive to go to muscular failure.

Flies then were kinda the same thing. First set, so exhausted so I didn’t hit many reps, but a little rest and the reps came. Work each set to (almost) failure, then drop set. Good stuff.

Pressing is just fun these days. I don’t know why, but I’m really enjoying it.

Then the raises. Oof. Continues to be a killer, and adding in burns and other things to really push the delts to failure. For sure I am seeing results here. Even if the weight/reps aren’t necessarily going up, that doesn’t matter — it’s about the work and knocking the crap out of my delts. It is paying off.

So it started crappy, but ended pretty well. Hopefully it’s an indicator for the rest of the week.

  • Incline Press
    • bar x 10
    • 125 x 5
    • 145 x 4
    • 165 x 3
    • 185 x 2
    • 205 x 1
    • 225 x 1
    • 235 x 1
    • 195 x 8 (AMRAP)
    • 195 x 4 (50%)
  • DB Bench Press (pause at bottom, get the stretch)
    • 40e x 10 (warm)
    • 60e x 8 (warm)
    • 95e x 6
    • 70e x 12
    • 40e x 25
  • DB Flat Flies
    • 25e x 12
    • 25e x 15
    • 25e x 17
    • 20e x 6 (drop)
    • 15e x 10 (drop)
  • Press
    • 115 x 10
    • 115 x 10
    • 115 x 10
  • Front Plate Raise (tri set)
    • 45 x 13
    • 45 x 10
    • 45 x 9
  • DB Lateral Raise (tri set)
    • 15e x 10
    • 15e x 10
    • 15e x 6 (then burns)
  • Rear Lateral Raise (tri set)
    • 12e x 12
    • 12e x 12
    • 12e x 8 (then burns)

Sunday Metal – Iron Reagan

Iron Reagan – “Miserable Failure”


2017-09-15 training log

Geez… it must have been International Arm Day at the gym today. Everybody was kung foo curling.

The switch away from supersets to just alternating is good. My session is taking longer, but I am getting more out of it. Pushing most sets to failure, trying to get out of it as much as I can. Apart from the first two heavy exercises, everything else I really try to work by pure muscular contraction – especially the cable exercises, which lend quite well.

Feeling good about the adjustments. Will stick with this for a bit.

I’m starting to wonder if this may be my general programming approach: more bodybuilding-like, but still with some strength-building elements. It’s certainly proving to be more friendly to my body, and while I’m not building strength as quickly as I’d like, there’s still progress and it feels like solid progress. I need more weeks of this under my belt to make a better evaluation, but so far so good.

  • BB Curls (elbows in, wider grip)
    • 55 x 8
    • 65 x 7
    • 75 x 6
    • 85 x 5
    • 95 x 4
    • 105 x 3
    • 85 x 12 (AMRAP)
    • 85 x 6 (50%)
  • Close-Grip Bench
    • bar x 10
    • 105 x 8
    • 125 x 7
    • 145 x 6
    • 185 x 5
    • 205 x 4
    • 225 x 3
    • 195 x 12 (AMRAP)
    • 195 x 6 (50%)
  • Incline Hammer Curls (3 second eccentric, go to failure, then stand and do AMRAP alternating supinated curls)
    • 25e x 12
    • 25e x 12
    • 25e x 9
  • Standing French Press
    • 75 x 15
    • 75 x 15
    • 75 x 15
  • Cable Curl (hold/sqeeze at top)
    • 50 x 35
    • 50 x 24
    • 50 x 21
    • 40 x 5 (drop)
    • 30 x 5 (drop)
  • Rope Pressdowns (First 20, twist out hands at bottom; remainder straight hands pushed to failure)
    • 60 x 40
    • 60 x 40
    • 60 x 31
    • 50 x 6 (drop)
    • 40 x 5 (drop)

2017-09-14 training log

I still don’t feel like I have this day dialed in.

It’s generally ok, but it feels like my back could take a little more work to maximize results, especially as I’m trying to up perceived intensity.

My thinking:

  • Drop the face pulls, not entirely, but lower the weight and maybe just 2 sets. I shouldn’t get any work from these, just some blood pumping.
  • Drop pull-ups. I want to continue doing some sort of “up”, but they all seem to be the biggest thing aggravating my arm pain. So, they gotta go.
  • Keep the BB rows as-is, for something heavy-ish.
  • Keep shrugs, but let the higer-rep sets go to true failure instead of straight-setting it.
  • Add in cable rows, moderate reps (8-12). I need to see if the gym has such a bar, but hopefully a wide, neutral-grip. The seated cable row machines there have the pulleys slightly high (i.e. not pulling at belly-button level, more like mid-chest), and I think a wide, neutral-grip would be good here. Straight sets, like 3-4×8-12. MIGHT add drop-set at the end.
  • Then keep pulldowns but I might change to underhand grip — have to see how my biceps handle it. Same straight sets, with a drop-set at the end.

I think this will provide a little more volume, a little more intensity.

As for today, not bad. I do think it’s too much with the face pulls – tiring out the small upper-back muscles and so things like pull-ups suffer. Still, pull-ups mostly suffer because I’m fat and weak. 😉 But yeah, they continue to cause me more problems than anything else, so they get shelved for now.

BB rows are fine. I like going a little heavy, a hint of english (not doing Pendlay Rows), but ensuring the back is pulling, full scapular retraction and then extension, etc..

Shrugs are always amusing. I want to get more out of them tho, hence the push to failure.

And the pulldowns were kinda fun because yeah… drop sets are somehow more magical for me now than ever before. I really put “just contract the muscle” into them (vs. trying to move the weight, trying to get another rep), and gah… it’s good.

  • Face Pulls
    • 75 x 25
    • 75 x 25
    • 75 x 29
  • Pull-Ups
    • BW x 3
    • BW x 3
    • BW x 2
  • Barbell Rows
    • 115 x 8
    • 135 x 7
    • 155 x 6
    • 175 x 5
    • 195 x 4
    • 205 x 3
    • 165 x 12 (AMRAP)
    • 165 x 6 (50%)
  • BB Shrugs
    • 285 x 8
    • 285 x 8
    • 205 x 20
    • 205 x 20
  • Close-grip Pulldowns
    • 130 x 12
    • 130 x 12
    • 130 x 12
    • 130 x 10
    • 115 x 3 (drop)
    • 110 x 3 (drop)

Get Your Apps Ready for iPhone X

Yesterday Apple announced the iPhone X. Over at the Big Nerd Ranch blog, I wrote about what we iOS developers need to do to get our apps ready for iPhone X.

2017-09-12 training log

Felt stiff this morning. Feeling better overall due to the stretching and body work I’m doing — twisting the spine is huge. I mean, most of the movements and work I do has no twisting, and even much of my life has no twisting. It stands to reason I’d get stiff and inflexible along those lines. So working in more of those movements as I stretch and roll? It’s been wonderful.

Anyways, the work-up was nothing of note. Keeping tight, slow descent, really working to keep the bar centered over mid-foot. I did up the top-weight 5# just because. And on the AMRAP I probably could have eeked out a 15th but I felt better to just leave it. This will make me repeat the whole thing next week, and next week I want overall performance to be better. THEN I can up the weight across the board. One interesting thing is I paused between each AMRAP rep just to breathe — pacing. Well, that actually stressed me differently, because I found my back tiring out much sooner because it just had more time under tension, vs. repping it out. Interesting observation.

Stiff-legs are fine; finally hitting a weight/rep that’s taxing me.

Lunges. I hate them. 🙂

  • Squat
    • bar x 5
    • 135 x 5
    • 165 x 4
    • 195 x 3
    • 245 x 2
    • 275 x 1
    • 305 x 1
    • 325 x 1
    • 295 x 3
    • 245 x 14 (AMRAP)
  • 1″ Deficit Stiff-Leg Deadlift
    • 255 x 8
    • 255 x 8
    • 255 x 8
  • Walking Lunges
    • BW x 20e
    • BW x 15e
    • BW x 10e
    • BW x 5e